The UNESCO World Heritage City of Toledo is a must for anyone visiting central Spain. The main attractions are the Cathedral, Alcazar and Jewish quarter where two of Spain’s few remaining synagogues are found. Artistically, Toledo was the home of El Greco and you’ll find many of his works inside the city’s museums, galleries and churches. The most famous is his masterpieces ‘The Burial of Count Orgaz’ which is housed in the Iglesia de Santo Tomé.
There’s so much to see that if time permits it’s well worth spending a night here in one of the city’s historic hotels and dining on local specialities such as stewed partridge in one of the many quaint restaurants. If you’re heading south after Madrid and have your own transport or driver it’s a good idea to stay in Toledo then head toward Andalucia via the Don Quijote windmills of Consuegra.
Getting to Toledo
Places to Stay
Things to See & Do
Getting To Toledo From Madrid
Madrid’s Barajas airport is the nearest airport to Toledo which is only 80km away. This shouldn’t take much over one hour by road but that will depend on traffic conditions around the capital. By public transport there are numerous options:
- By Bus: … Buses depart every 30 minutes from Estación Sur de Autobuses (South Bus Station) on Méndez Álvaro (it’s got a metro stop). Services operate from 6am to 10pm and the journey takes between one and one and a half hours. On arrival in Toledo you’ll get off at the Estación de Autobuses next to the river. From here you can walk the 1.2km up a steep hill to the historical centre where you want to be or better still take bus 5 or 6 up the hill.
- By Train: … There are ten services per day from Madrid’s Atocha Railway Station to Toledo. The fast AV Media Distancia Train take just 35 minutes. (Check latest timetables at www.renfe.es). Toledo’s quaint old train station is a 20 minute walk to the historic centre so get on the number 5 or 6 bus to Plaza de Zocódover if you don’t fancy the hike.
- Coach Trips: … Many visitors to Madrid prefer to avoid the hassle of public transport and prefer to take one of the many scheduled coach trips which operate to Toledo. It’s also an option to hire your own driver and tour guide.
A History of Toledo
The city’s history can be traced way beyond the Romans but it was under the Roman Empire that Toletum was developed as a strategically important point standing in the geograpical centre of Roman Hispania. The Visigoths moved their capital here in the 6th century and the Moors later established Toledo as the Muslim capital of central Spain. In 1085 the city fell to Alfonso VI and the Vatican recognised Toledo as the seat of the Catholic Church in Spain.
For a period of time Toledo’s Christians, Jews and Muslims coexisted and the city became known as ‘the City of Three Cultures’ until 1492 when the fall of Granada to Fernando and Isabella (the Reyes Católicos or Catholic Monarchs) led to the expulsion of Jews and Muslims from Spain unless they converted to Christianity.
Today you can wander around the city’s tiny streets discovering the many attractions of Toledo which mark the fascinating history of Spain’s Imperial City. Nowhere else in Spain will you see so many buildings of interest within such a small area. And nowhere else in Spain are you more likely to get lost whilst wandering around them! But don’t worry, it’s only a small city and you’re never far from where you want to be.
Main Highlights of Toledo:
- Toledo Cathedral took over 250 years to build.
- The Alcazar is Toledo’s imposing fortress.
- Synagogues of Santa Maria La Blanca and El Tránsito.
- Church of Santo Tomé houses El Greco’s masterpiece, “El Entierro del Conde de Orgaz”.
- San Juan de Los Reyes had been the planned burial place of the Reyes Catolicos